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know a more besetting temptation to the ministers of Christ, than that of gradually elevating themselves into centres of unity in their respective localities, so as to fill a national church with many masters. There is a natural desire of bringing others into sameness of thought with ourselves, especially among men persuaded of the importance of their own views, and it extends not only to essentials, but to non-essentials. Now this anxiety, in its measure a lawful tendency of the human mind, yet contains the seed of much error; for a few steps beyond the just limits in which it should be confined, will carry us on to the pointof valuing agreement with ourselves, above the general concord of the entire body. It is a flattering thing to be possessed of much personal influence, yea, and an alluring thing to be the polar star of immortal souls in their travel after God; and the peril is lest we sink into the mistake of allowing the mental vision of our congregations to be filled with ourselves. Our subject of discourse then, is the extent to which the individual influence of a clergyman is to be encouraged. If extended beyond a definite boundary, it will become dangerous to unity; if excluded altogether, we lose one great means which God has vouchsafed of winning sinners to Himself, viz. the instrumentality of the affections, the preaching of a zealous life. Recognising then to the full, the lawfulness of leading a parish to look up with deference to the pastor appointed over it, we desire to find certain checks which may
prevent this deference from deteriorating into evil, becoming perilous to the oneness of the whole church, and rendering us subjects for the apostolic rebuke, “ My brethren, be not many masters.”
I. We would suggest, first, that it will be our wisdom so to encourage the deference of our people, as that we may not shut out Christ Jesus from their gaze.
Now, in thus saying, we do not mean that in our teaching, we should be most unwearied in setting Him forth as the alone rest and confidence of the soul, our hope and our fortress, our castle and our deliverer. It is not the gospel which we deliver, if we deliver not this; nor is there much risk at the present day of our degenerating into the cold and barren moralists of a recent age, the Christianity of whose sermons could scarce be discerned except from the text. We trust that there is no pastor in our own church who does not seek, in all his functions, to make the cross of Christ the foundation of justification and sanctification, the anchor of the soul, which will alone hold sure and stedfast when “ the floods of death compass us about, and all His billows and waves pass over us." We design rather to insist on the necessity of teaching people to feel, with regard to our ministrations, that they are in truth not ours but God's, not the ministrations of man, but of Him who became Man, in order to be the everlasting teacher of His baptised.
When our Lord was manifested in the flesh, it
was not only that He might be a sacrifice for sin, but also the Instructor of the race which He redeemed. Accordingly it is said by Isaiah, in a prediction always referred to the Messiah, “The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
Hence He is called our Prophet, as well as our Priest and King: and it is observable that the execution of His functions as the anointed Teacher of the nations, functions, it may be, implied in that lofty strain, wherein amidst other august titles He is denominated, “The Counsellor,” went hand in hand with His ministry, as the healer of the sick and the bearer of our infirmities. After His resurrection He appears to have ceased from personally discharging this office to the population at large. During the great forty days, He was engaged, it would seem, rather in communicating with the apostles who were succeed Him as teachers of the universe, than in instructing it Himself. The common people no longer heard Him.
The multitudes no longer thronged about Him. Henceforth He would teach mediately through others. His first agents were the eleven who had continued with Him in His temptations. To them first descended the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But, indeed, the ascended
6 Isaiah 1. 4.
Saviour did not therefore cease to be Himself the preacher of righteousness. No one of the characters which He vouchsafed to assume for our sakes has He laid down; nor shall, till He deliver up the kingdom unto the Father. Just as He rules from behind the veil, and sways the sceptre of His spiritual empire, moderating the violence of adversaries, supplying the wants of His elect, and as in that inner place He ever offers before the eternal throne the sacrifice of Himself, so likewise does He still act as the Prophet of His church, continuing with the successors of the twelve in power and in presence; by them teaching, in them praying, through them, guiding His flock by green pastures and waters of comfort. We regard then the whole body of clergy as the expansion of the idea of Christ Jesus, as the teacher of the world. Each individual minister is but the persona through which He speaks unto men. Just as the Holy Ghost dwells in the church catholic, and sojourns complete in every body, which He makes His temple, so does Christ continue with the perfect college of His ambassadors, and Himself entire officiate, (if we may so speak,) in the officiations of each several member of the same. St. Chrysostom insists at some length upon this point. He is engaged in exhorting Christians not to despise the ministrations of the clergy, because of their personal unworthiness, and thus proceeds, “Thou art a sheep, be not busy concerning the Shepherd, lest
thou have to give an account of thy accusations against him.”
But how, it will be said, does he address me without practising himself? He does not speak to thee of himself. If it is to him that you give heed, you have no reward. It is Christ that admonishes thee. What do I say? Not even Paul must you obey, if he speak anything of himself, or any thing human, but the apostle who has Christ speaking in him.” And towards the close of the same homily we meet with yet stronger language, « Neither will the righteous man help thee at all, if thou art unfaithful; nor will the base man harm thee, if thou art faithful. Through oxen did God work for the ark when He would save His people. What God bestows is not of such sort as to be effected through the virtue of the priest. The whole is of grace, his part is only to open his mouth. God worketh all—the priest doth only fulfil a symbol." Another writer, commenting on
7 Vid. St. Chrysostomi, in II. Ep. Ad. Timoth. Hom. II. Συ πρόβατον ει. μη τοινυν περιεργάζoυ τoν ποιμένα, ίνα μή και εφ' οίς εκείνου κατηγορείς, ευθύνας δώς. Και πώς έμοι λέγει, φησίν, αυτός ου ποιών; ουκ αυτός σοι λέγει. ει αυτή πειθη, μισθών ουκ έχεις. ο Χριστός σοι ταυτα παραινει. Και τί λέγω; ουδέ Παύλο πέιθεσθαι χρή, άν τι ίδιον λέγη, άν τι ανθρώπινον, αλλά το αποστόλω τώ τον Χριστόν έχοντι λαλούντα εν εαυτώ.
8 The following is the passage entire:-Ούτε ο δίκαιος ωφελήσει τι, μη όντος σου πιστου, ούτε ο φαύλος βλάψει τι, όντος σου πιστου. Διά βοών ενήργησεν ο Θεός επί της κιβωτόυ, ότε έβούλετο σώσαι τον λαόν. μή γάρ ο βίος του ιερέως, μη γαρ η αρετή τοσουτόν τι συντελεί; ουκ έστι τοιαύτα & χαρίζεται ο θεός, ως υπό ιερατικής αρετής ανύεσθαι. το πάν της χάριτός έστι, τούτου έστιν ανοίξει